Com­post sea­son

The leaves are fall­ing and the wood burn­ers have been stoked. Pump­kins have been har­vested and are ready to eat, along with car­rots and parsnips. All the health-giv­ing bras­si­cas are good to go.

Element - - Living - By Janet Luke

In the vege gar­den

This is a great time in the gar­den as the first win­ter chills have started to kill off all those sum­mer bugs. White cab­bage but­ter­flies and green vegetable bugs should be fall­ing off your broc­coli hav­ing taken their last chomp on your prized plants. Re­plen­ish your vegetable beds. Rake up fallen leaves around your gar­den, your neigh­bours, your lo­cal school, kindy or even park. I put these leaves di­rectly on my va­cant vegetable beds as a weed sup­press­ing mulch which will slowly trans­form into rich com­post. Water them well to stop them blow­ing away. If you have any gar­den beds that you are not go­ing to plant with win­ter crops, sow a green cover crop. This is a liv­ing, grow­ing com­post. Plant seeds of oats, phacelia, mus­tard or lupins. You can find these at the gar­den cen­tre. Come spring you dig these plants into the soil and get plant­ing again. Plant seedlings of cab­bage, cau­li­flower, broc­coli and leeks. I plant my gar­lic this month to give it a head start. I buy New Zealand grown gar­lic bulbs from my lo­cal Farm­ers mar­ket. Break up the bulb and plant the largest cloves di­rectly into the soil, pointy end up, about 4 cm deep. Cover with rich com­post and keep the area weed free. Don’t have much space? Plant your gar­lic bulbs un­der your rose bushes - they make great com­pan­ions.

Ur­ban Or­chard

Most fruit has now been har­vested. As the leaves fall from the trees the skele­ton of the tree is ex­posed. This is a good time to do some prun­ing. Choose a warm sunny day. Use clean, sharp pruners. Re­move any bro­ken, dis­eased, or cross­ing over branches. For any large cuts it is best to cover with some prun­ing paint. I just use any water based sealer I have in the garage. May is also a good time to plant out any young straw­berry plants. Pre­pare their bed with a layer of rich com­post.

Com­post heap

Gather up all the fallen leaves and layer with lawn mower clip­pings into a tall, straight sided com­post heap. Cover with a tarp and re­mem­ber to turn it with a fork ev­ery month.

Herbs

Rose Gera­nium: this peren­nial has small pink flow­ers and beau­ti­ful rose scented leaves. The leaves can be used to scent teas, drinks and fin­ger­bowls. The dis­tilled oil is said to have in­sect re­pelling qual­i­ties. I have planted this bush next to a path so when any­one brushes by the scent is re­leased. Grow from cut­tings in a sunny, well drained spot.

Blood veined sor­rel: this leafy peren­nial looks stun­ning grown along a bor­der. The leaves are green with all the leaf veins a blood red. In win­ter the whole plant turns crim­son. The young leaves can be eaten in sal­ads or stir frys.

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